NASA's Orion Capsule Is One Step Closer To Launch

The Editors
Photo credit: NASA–Marvin Smith

From Popular Mechanics

  • NASA's Orion spacecraft has passed a series of critical tests at Plum Brook Station in Ohio.
  • The capsule passed its key thermal vacuum and electromagnetic interference tests and will be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in preparation for more testing.
  • Orion is scheduled to carry up to four astronauts to the moon in 2024 as part of NASA's long-awaited Artemis mission.

NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which will eventually ferry Artemis mission astronauts to the moon, has passed a critical series of space-environment tests.

The spacecraft, which consists of a Crew Module and a European Service Module and will be able to carry up to four astronauts, arrived at NASA's Plum Brook Station in Ohio this past November, ESA announced in a statement.

For two months, NASA technicians subjected Orion to temperature vacuum tests, which exposed the capsule to temperatures as high as 347 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, the team conducted a series of electromagnetic tests in order to ensure the module's electronic instrumentation could stand up to any potential interference.

Photo credit: NASA

Next up: NASA's Kennedy Space Center—via NASA's bad-ass Super Guppy—for more tests and the addition of sparkling clean solar panels. If all goes according to schedule, Orion will be offloaded on March 24.

Next year, NASA plans to conduct Artemis I, an uncrewed test of Orion and the SLS rocket, which will send the capsule around the moon and back. A crewed mission around the moon, Artemis II, will take place in late 2022 and will be followed in 2024 by Artemis III, the first crewed mission to the moon since the Apollo era.

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